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Years ago when I read Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, I was thrilled to realize that I already did some of the things she recommended. For instance, at that time, I already wrote a version of her morning pages as a way to tame my mind, to keep it from circling. Morning pages are handwritten, stream of consciousness journaling, writing without stopping to think or read what you’ve written. It’s writing that’s not intended to be read for at least a year, or ever, if your handwriting is anything like mine.
Recently, a mentor suggested I start each writing session with a writing warm up. He suggested using a writing prompt, so instead I dusted off my morning pages routine. Not that I’m contrary or anything, but I think that says something about me.
I hadn’t journaled in a number of years, and this time, trying to write those three pages in the morning and pulling hen’s teeth had a lot in common. Success came when I decided afternoon was the new morning. Those three little pages have me writing more easily from a cleansed, calm, more organized mind.
Another habit I’d let fade along with journaling was the “artist date.” Artist dates are something else Julia Cameron writes about in The Artist’s Way, “a solo expedition to explore something that interests you.” An artist date is designed to “spark the imagination.”
For my artist date I took myself for an afternoon at the beautiful Grounds For Sculpture in Hamilton, NJ. Grounds For Sculpture is an expansive showcase for monumental sculpture, where the sculpture vies with the landscaping for the viewers attention. Interspersed with the sculptures are secret places, hidden poetry, and places for reflection. I wrote sitting on a bench in a Japanese garden, took a break to view Ming Fay’s whimsical Canutopia, wandered to a new bench hidden in a grove of trees overlooking a sculpture of a group of lions and wrote some more. I ended the afternoon at a table by a lily pad-bedecked pond, writing as someone in the distance played a hammered dulcimer. It was a productive afternoon.
I am recommitted to writing warm-ups, morning pages, and artist dates, and one day this month I might try warming up with a writing prompt.
What do you do to warm up for and inspire your writing?